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When we added a bathroom a couple of years ago, I had visions of a nicely painted white wooden cabinet with frosted glass doors. I’d seen them at Crate and Barrel and IKEA, and thought they’d be perfect. But I couldn’t find the right size, I was worried the IKEA cabinet might not last (I have 2 boys!), and it didn’t end up feeling like a good match with our fairly rustic bathroom design.
So I searched Craig’s List for inexpensive options. I ended up with a cute metal cabinet salvaged from an old doctor’s office. I love that the top drawers flip down instead of pull straight out, and the old Formica top brings up fond memories. But I was worried about how metal would look in the wood-heavy bathroom.
For starters, the bright blue and stark white paint didn’t match the pale green and rich rust that we’d gone with in the bathroom. It was time for another painting project! In the end it worked well, and I decided to use one of the wall paint colors combined with some semi-gloss paint we’d used to faux finish some beams in our living room several years ago.
Since the metal was already painted, I didn’t have to use any special metal primer, and since I wanted a rustic look, I didn’t have to paint carefully (not my strong suit). After my mom and I painted the different colors on, we took sandpaper and rubbed off the paint in a few spots.
I’m really happy with the results, and it’s so much more personal than a cabinet bought at a department store. It’s a good reminder to me that devoting a couple of hours to a project is more fun, more meaningful, and more satisfying than pulling out the credit card to buy something that looked good in the glossy catalog. And now my little metal cabinet matches the room!
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16 thoughts on “Revamped Doctor’s Office Cabinet

  1. Cute cabinet, though I question the choice of paint colors. ochre and brown? maybe my screen isn’t rendering the colors well?

  2. Sorry, but that bathroom is not “rustic”. Vinyl flooring, and the color scheme are far from rustic. The colors of the cabinet are far from the green and burgundy in the bathroom (it really doesn’t even match).

  3. To answer the color questions: the bathroom is entirely decorated and painted in shades of green and rust (to me, it feels a bit Southwestern). I suspect between my bad photography and various monitors that it’s not rendering well, but there’s no ocher and no burgundy, and the paint we used on the cabinet is the same paint on the walls and doors. The floor is Marmoleum, a “natural” version of linoleum that’s much warmer than ceramic tile, and the ceiling, windows, and most of the fixtures are all salvaged. We love that look, but maybe it’s more modern rustic? Some photos of the build: http://tinyurl.com/ntzbke

  4. It was better off as it was, crisp white and clean aqua. Now it looks like schlock. I know you’re trying to do that “charming country home” but the sink and the alcove have a nice octagonal detail that is currently lost.
    What would work best here and take advantage of the metal quality of the piece is if you used a copper paint as an underlayer, and used a sponge technique with the deep brown that you used on the wood trim. If you did use green, you’d want to paint it into the corners and wipe it out immediately, to add a verdigris effect. That would compliment your floor. I’m very sorry, but what you have there doesn’t “read” as a viable surface.

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Sometimes helpful editor and digital media director at MAKE and CRAFT.

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